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If you’ve never trained with parallette bars before, then you’re in for a shock. But don’t worry, we recruited Olympic gymnast and 2016 U.S. floor and vault champion Jake Dalton (above) to provide tips that’ll shorten the learning curve.
Begin with static moves if you’ve never used parallette bars before. According to Dalton, “These are going to build an understanding of balance and start firing muscles that you’re probably not used to working, even if it’s something as simple as holding yourself in a pushup position for two to three sets of 30 seconds.”
“Squeezing your glutes is huge,” explains Dalton. “When you’re in a pushup or plank position on the bars and your lower back is sagging, that doesn’t target your core at all.” Squeezing your glutes and the rest of your muscles will keep your back straight and will better activate your core so you can stay straight. Speaking of which…
No matter what position you’re in, Dalton says, “you want your body to be in a straight line. The angle of your hands can change, but you really want to keep your body in a tight, straight line. When you see a gymnast in a handstand, their shoulders aren’t angled, their back isn’t loose, and their feet aren’t over one or the other. That’s how it should be.”
In addition to keeping your body tight and straight, Dalton notes that squeezing the bars hard will help increase your grip strength. Also, “if you’re loose and not really squeezing, well, that might lead to your slipping midtransition. It’s a basic fundamental, but focus on your grip when using the parallettes.”
“You can just go in there and try stuff. Some people are going to be able to do a lot of the basic things easily, and parallette bars are so versatile,” says Dalton. “For pushups, you can turn your hands in, out, widen the grip, put your feet on a bench. Just go in there, play around, and learn some new strength.”